Prince William indulged his love of football by visiting Aston Villa’s training ground on Thursday (16.03.23).
The royal has previously confirmed he’s a big fan of the Birmingham-based club and he headed to their Bodymoor Heath facility in Warwickshire to meet manager Unai Emery and the men’s first team as well as the coaching staff while he also had a chat with Carla Ward who helms the women’s team and cast his eye over youngsters playing for the Aston Villa academy.
A statement posted on the club’s website explained: “Aston Villa received a special visit from The Prince of Wales at Bodymoor Heath … His Royal Highness met with CEO Christian Purslow, Head Coach Unai Emery, his coaching staff and the men’s first-team squad.
“Prince William also sat down with Villa Women Manager Carla Ward and spent time with the club’s Academy as he watched our youngsters in training before casting his eye over the first team.”
Pictures posted on the website showed the royal joking with former Arsenal manager Emery and addressing the first team who gathered around him on the pitch.
The prince has previously spoken about his dedication to the club, admitting he wanted to follow a mid-table team so he could enjoy more “rollercoaster moments”.
In an interview with BBC presenter Gary Linker, William explained he’s been attached to Aston Villa since he was a kid. He said: “A long time ago at school I got into football big time. I was looking around for clubs.
“All my friends at school were either Manchester United fans or Chelsea fans and I didn’t want to follow the run of the mill teams. I wanted to have a team that was more mid-table that could give me more emotional rollercoaster moments.
“Aston Villa’s always had a great history. I have got friends of mine who support Aston Villa and one of the first FA Cup games I went to was Bolton v Aston Villa back in 2000. Sadly, Villa went on to lose to Chelsea.
“It was fantastic, I sat with all the fans with my red beanie on, and I sat with all the Brummie fans and had a great time. It was the atmosphere, the camaraderie and I really felt that there was something I could connect with.”
William went on to insist he felt a personal connection to the team, saying: “People like [former player] Paul Merson were playing and I thought if people like him can play as well as he does, knowing the struggles he was under at the time…this is a club I can support.
“I was also born in ‘82, the year we won the [European] Cup, so I feel the history and pedigree around Villa has always been quite close to me.”